TN: Govt forms 5-member online gaming authority

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The Tamil Nadu government have finally set up an online gaming authority five months after it was initially announced. The decision came soon after the state enacted Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022.

As per the Official Gazette, the Governor has formed “The Tamil Nadu Online Gaming Authority” under section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022. A former IAS officer, Md Nasimuddin, will assume the position of chairman of the authority.

Retd. IPS officer MC Sarangan, Dr. C Chellappan, O Raveendran, and In-Gage Group CEO Vijay Karunakaran are the other four members. It is also mentioned that the orders regarding service of these members shall be issued separately.

Real Money Games (RMG) like online rummy and poker are all banned under the law. The online gaming authority will regulate online games and issue certificates to gaming platforms and operators. It may also function to perform duties as a self-regulatory body (SRB).

Notably, the gaming authority will be banning any games with wagering aspect regardless of the nature of the game as the Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act has grouped both game of skill and game of chance under gambling.

The gaming authority can also issue a show-cause notice to an online game provider in-case the certificate of registration was obtained through fraud or does not comply with the guidelines.

Ongoing tussle between State and gaming cos

There is an important case ongoing regarding the situation that led to the creation of the online gaming authority. The online gaming companies have filed a petition challenging the applicability of the aforesaid Act in Tamil Nadu.

The companies argued that the State cannot ban skill games, as they are legally operable. The State, however, claimed that the law was enacted to safeguard the citizens from online gaming addiction.

During the latest hearing, Senior counsel C. Aryama Sundaram representing AIGF contented that AIGF members do not use any of bots in their games as it will amount to cheating in a response to senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the state in a previous hearing who claimed that physical rummy and online rummy are vastly different.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Gameskraft, asked for matter to be listed on August 24 in order to provide his submissions. The date is also believed to be the final date of the hearing.